Republicans Must Woo Hispanic Voters

Wednesday, 26 Nov 2008 05:26 PM

By James H. Walsh

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Republicans take note: The Hispanic vote turned out to be the deciding factor in the election of Barack Obama as 44th president of the United States.

Polls show that Obama garnered 72 percent of the Hispanic bloc nationwide — including the swing states of Colorado, Florida, Nevada, and New Mexico — which previously had gone to President George Bush.

It’s time for Republicans to turn their attention towards this crucial voting bloc. The Hispanic population is growing faster than whites or blacks. For more than 60 years, the nation’s black population has hovered at 13 percent of the total U.S. population. According to 2007 U.S. Census Bureau estimates, the Hispanic population now comprises 15.1 percent of the total U.S. population.

This estimate does not begin to include all Hispanics in the United States, of course, due to the many illegal aliens here. And estimates suggest that the nation’s Hispanic population will triple within the next 30 to 40 years. Republicans need a strategy for reaching out to Hispanics among newly naturalized U.S. citizens and “anchor babies” (born in the United States and thus U.S. citizens) being raised by illegal alien parents.

For the Republican Party to win back the Hispanic vote, they must focus on Hispanic culture, mores, and mentality. Hispanic groups share a conservative family ethic, a strong work ethic, and religious devotion — just like Republicans.

Republicans and the currently tepid silent majority of U.S. citizens against illegal immigration need to join forces to define terms. They need to say loud and clear that illegal aliens are breaking U.S. law and weakening the structure of the Republic. They need to insist that the solution to the immigration crisis is legal immigration — a major building block of the United States since the early days of the nation.

Legal immigrants need encouragement and support. Immigration laws, once and for all, need to be amended to facilitate legal immigration and to eliminate any excuse for illegal border crossings.

Republicans should stress the core values shared by most U.S. citizens. These shared core values include limited government, individual freedom and liberty, responsibility for one’s decisions, and freedom to worship. Republicans need to articulate workable solutions to the problems facing the nation, as they did in the 1990s with the Contract for America.

U.S. citizens of Hispanic heritage, for a variety of reasons, chose to give Obama the benefit of the doubt, gambling that he would bring beneficial change to Washington.

Thus far, the only change evident in the transition is Obama’s abrupt about-face in surrounding himself with Clinton bureaucrats and lobbyists. Whether this reunion of Clintonistas will reward hard-working, center-right citizens of Hispanic heritage remains to be seen.

During the 2008 campaign, Democrats declared that U.S. citizens who oppose amnesty for illegal aliens are anti-Hispanic racists. To correct the record, Republicans need to reach out to U.S. citizens of Hispanic heritage who share law and order values essential to national security.

Most Hispanic voters never knew that the Republican candidate, John McCain, had co-authored the failed Path-to-Citizenship/McCain-Kennedy immigration legislation of 2007. They never knew, because McCain avoided mentioning it during the campaign. In the end, McCain’s fear of alienating his conservative base lost him the immigrant vote.

By no means perfect, the Pathway to Citizenship bill demeaned those foreign nationals attempting to immigrate legally to the United States and willing to comply with current laborious U.S. immigration requirements by rewarding those who were here illegally.

The bill weighted in favor of law breakers, and that was simply unacceptable to U.S. citizens, among them Hispanics. However, McCain could have shown that he had the issue at the forefront.

Republicans need to reach out to new citizens to help spread the word that U.S. laws are not written to persecute any ethnic group but to prosecute those who break the law.

In becoming a U.S. citizen, a foreign national takes an oath that states, in part, “renounce and adjure any allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty.” In doing so, the new citizen accepts the need for assimilation and enforcement of U.S. immigration laws as essential in achieving national security, which protects the well-being of all.

Lest we forget, in July 2007, Sen. Obama, speaking to a convention of the National Council of La Raza (a radical Hispanic advocacy group), claimed exclusive right to their support based on his having marched in their 2006 May Day rally.

Demonstrators in that rally had defiantly waved Mexican flags, other foreign national flags, and anarchist flags, while burning and desecrating the U.S. flag. Many marchers wore “Che” Guevara T-shirts and carried signs worded, “Gringos go home,” and “This is our land not yours.”

These anti-U.S. exhibitions alarmed many U.S. citizens who began to wonder if these were the sentiments of the Hispanic community, since no Hispanic voice was raised to protest the rally.

Obama promised La Raza that as resident he would make amnesty “a priority.” Yet, by Election Day, Obama had spun his way through the rough terrain of immigration without articulating a position on how to resolve the unspoken issue.

A Democrat majority in both Houses of Congress and a Democrat in the White House bodes ill for the rational immigration legislation needed to protect the United States from a new wave of illegal aliens pushed by poverty in their homeland and pulled by welfare benefits in the United States.

In drafting immigration legislation, the Democratic Congress will fail to consider the impact of unbridled immigration on the U.S. educational systems, health, social, and welfare services, and national security.

The nation can expect U.S. immigration legislation in the year 2009 to reflect a national shift to the left, a shift toward open borders. That could mean a restructuring of previous legislative blunders or a pandering to immigration special interests or an amnesty plan.

Republicans should reach out to U.S. citizens of Hispanic heritage and urge them to disavow radical separatists and to support immigration legislation that rewards legal immigrants.

It will be interesting to see how President-elect Obama plans to resolve the immigration chaos, as he has promised. His legislative record suggests a tendency to stand for one thing but vote for another and to drop unpopular positions as need be.

Regardless, Republicans should face a stinging fact from Nov. 4: to ignore Hispanics is to lose elections.

James Walsh is a former federal prosecutor.

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